Even though most of the complications of diabetes mellitus are quite debilitating, they can be averted by precautionary vigilance and knowledge. A foot that is characterized by pathological signs of infection or ulceration is termed as a diabetic foot or charcot foot. One of the most life threatening and chronic complications associated with diabetic foot is lower leg amputation, a long term effect of diabetes observed in approximately 84% of patients suffering from diabetes.
Read on to comprehensively understand the onset of minor and major diabetic leg complications, which when managed in the correct way can help you prevent lower leg amputation,
Minor Foot Complications to Look Out for
Loss of sensation or numbness, tingling and burning sensation serve as primary indicators of the onset of diabetic foot. Also, a reduction in the secretion of sweat and oil production that lubricates the skin of the foot causes dry skin and severe itching that can in turn, increase your susceptibility of developing fungal infections. Moreover, hair growth in the lower legs and feet slows down at a drastic rate, leading to a hard shiny skin on the legs.
Major Foot Complications that Warrant a Visit to the Doctor
Diabetic neuropathy and an impairment of blood circulation in diabetic patients leads to the presence of plantar ulcers and persistent wounds that do not heal easily. Consequently, diabetic patients tend to place extra pressure on one side of the leg, which leads to moderate foot deformities.
Inflammation and increase in skin temperature at the joints and weakening of the muscles leads to an improper body posture, which manifests itself as a limp while walking in diabetic patients. Also, severe or mild edema with or without erythema on the foot, without any traceable traumatic injury and drainage of pus serves as indicators of infection, which may worsen over a period of time and lead to leg amputation, if left untreated.
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What Causes Diabetic Leg Complications?
Progressive Nerve Damage
Nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy experienced by diabetics occurs due to a rise in blood glucose levels, which damages the nerves and blood vessels. Impairment of the nervous systems leads to loss of sensation in the feet to an extent where the patient does not even feel a traumatic injury to the foot.
This nerve damage leads to skin dryness and appearance of cracks and sores due to the abnormal pressure exerted on the skin, bones and joints, while walking or carrying out other physical work.
Lowered Blood Circulation to the Extremities
Poor circulation results in the weakening of bones and disintegration of the weight bearing joints in the foot and ankle. Subsequently, a diabetic develops a higher risk of bone deformities and fractures. Besides poor blood flow, a compromised immune system worsens the severity of injuries by reducing the body’s capacity to heal ulcers or wounds on the foot. This inability to ward off infections leads to the formation of necrotic tissues. When these infections can no longer be curbed by antibiotics and the patient’s immune system, the physician opts to surgically amputate the limb.
Since, the aforementioned complications stay hidden for a long time, regular monitoring of glucose levels and daily examination of the feet for recognizing the early signs of diabetic foot complications is essential to circumvent future diabetic foot related complications.